The Kinross Incident – The Disappearance Of Felix Moncla And Robert Wilson – A Case Study

First Published: May 26, 2019 Last updated: May 30th, 2019 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 17 minutes Posted in: Editorials

That the incident of 23rd November 1953 resulted in the disappearance and assumed death of First Lieutenant Felix Moncla is not disputed. That it took place during an active scramble and intercept mission is also not disputed. However, what the young pilot was ordered to intercept very much is.

That the incident took place during a time when such sightings were rife does nothing to quash such rumors that Felix Moncla is one of several active pilots to have lost their lives while in pursuit of a UFO. Perhaps that he was barely past his 27th birthday at the time of the incident adds even more tragedy to the already harrowing affair.

Just what happened that November evening over half a century ago? Indeed, we should not trivialize or lose sight of the fact that a young man, not even in the prime of his life, met a grizzly end that day. The fact that investigators still believe – passionately in some cases – that there is justice to be done in revealing just what happened to Felix Monica and his radar reader, Robert Wilson over half a century later should perhaps indicate to us there very much is a truth to be revealed.

Like a great many cases with a similar background – which in itself should alert us to the fact that something very untoward is roaming the skies of our planet – if we can reach inside the belly of just one such case and extract the truth of the incident, it will no doubt shine a glow on other similar incidents. As well as the UFO and alien question in general.

An Unidentified Object In Restricted Airspace Between America And Canada

During the early evening of 23rd November 1953 personnel at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan noticed a strange radar return seemingly over the Soo Locks area of Lake Superior. This region of the upper Michigan area borders Canada, and as such, is strictly restricted air space.

With that in mind, shortly after the anomalous object was picked up, First Lieutenant Felix Moncla was sprinting to his F-89C Scorpion fighter jet on the runway of Kinross Air Force Base to investigate. It would be a mission he wouldn’t return from.

With Moncla on the mission was Second Lieutenant Robert Wilson, who would operate the radar of the jet fighter. However, constant trouble by Wilson to accurately read the radar readings would mean that radar operators in the control tower on the ground would relay information to Moncla during much of the flight.

As respected UFO researcher Nick Redfern writes:

Available USAF records demonstrate that the F-89 was vectored west-northwest, then west, climbing to 30,000 feet. While on its westerly course, the crew received permission to descend to 7,000 feet, turning east-northeast and coming steeply down on the target from above!

Moncla would begin to descend, and with the F-89 approaching in excess of 500 miles per hour, the object would suddenly change course. The jet would do likewise, engaging in a cat and mouse chase, assisted by the radar operator at the control tower. This would continue for around half an hour. Then, it appeared the F-89 was finally closing in.

Two “Blips” Become One – Then Vanish!

In the control room at Kinross Air Force Base, radar operators and other on-duty personnel watched the screen as the blip representing the jet got closer and closer to the unidentified blip. They then became one. Those watching braced themselves for some kind of engagement or for the F-89 to fly past the object and appear on the screen on the other side of it.

However, before any engagement could take place, the object would vanish from the screen. At the same time, though, so did the F-89 Scorpion. And the two pilots.

Radar operatives would attempt radio communication with the F-89 jet, and an immediate search of the area went ahead. However, nothing at all came to light. For all intents and purposes, the two pilots had completely disappeared. Vanished, completely into the air.

According to the aforementioned US Air Force records, the object was last confirmed at 8,000 feet and around 70 miles from Keweenaw Point.

The search would continue right through the night and into the following day. However, not a trace was discovered of the plane or the two pilots – not to mention the still unknown object.

Given the strange circumstances of the incident, and the climate of the era with regards to UFOs and “flying saucers” it wasn’t long before the incident came to the attention of UFO investigators and organizations.

Official Backtracking And (Purposely?) Conflicting Accounts

It wasn’t long, of course, before the United States Air Force began to “backtrack and give different stories” about the circumstances of the evening of 23rd November 1953.

For example, after first stating (indirectly) to the Associated Press that Moncla’s plane and the “bogey” had merged on the radar screen, they would then claim no such merging had occurred. In fact, one statement claimed the “bogey” was, in fact, a Canadian Air Force jet who had strayed off course. Incidentally, the Royal Canadian Air Force would outright reject this statement from their American counterparts.

Felix Moncla

Eventually, the US Air Force would issue a statement claiming that “the pilot probably suffered from vertigo and crashed into the lake”. In reality, though, no one seemed to know what had happened to the two pilots. Nor did they appear to know just what the unidentified craft was the F-89 was chasing.

This is quite an interesting assertion. As UFO researcher, Gordon Heath would state, one would imagine that the United States Air Force – or any air force for that matter – would not have someone who suffered from vertigo to such a degree an active pilot duty. And the notion that Moncla had managed to hide the condition during his time in the Air Force is unlikely. As is the idea that military investigators only knew his condition due to “hearsay”.

Perhaps one of the most interesting claims of Heath’s is of comments made by fellow researcher, John Tenney. According to Heath, Tenney had spoken to a member of the US Air Force who was present on the evening in question. They claimed to have heard “Moncla’s Cajun drawl” coming over the radio – several hours after the air force claimed contact was lost. If this was the case, what would that tell us?

A Quick Pause For Speculation

If there is any truth whatsoever in the claims that Moncla’s deep-southern accent was audible over the communications radio hours after the Air Force claimed he had disappeared how was such audio kept from the other members of the search effort?

Were they using another channel free of the missing pilot’s voice? Or did all those involved indeed hear these distressed calls and, the apparent whistleblower aside, simply remained silent of it?

Furthermore, where was the apparent broadcast coming from? Was the pilot flying through the skies of Michigan? Or, if we accept there was a UFO over the America-Canada border – which the official records, remember, tell us there was – might this craft indeed have been otherworldly? And might it have transported the F-89 to somewhere else on the planet?

Taking that thought a stage further, might the audio have been coming not from elsewhere on the planet, but perhaps from another dimension or realm altogether. After all, planes vanish into thin air more than we might think. Might the UFO have been a consequence of some kind of open portal or gateway? One that when it closed took the UFO and the plane with it to a destination, to us, unknown?

The above are all purely speculative thoughts and suggestions. However, in a case that is still wrapped in mystery and conspiracy, it is perhaps our duty to examine every possibility, no matter or bizarre, or indeed mundane.

Before we move on to some of the theories, check out the short video below. It goes over the basics of the case once more.

Increasing Evidence Of A Cover-Up Of Huge Proportions?

Let’s turn our attention back to the research of the previously mentioned Gordon Heath for a moment. Heath is just one of several researchers who genuinely believe that the Kinross Incident has more secrets to divulge. And, judging by several interesting developments and details of his research, it would appear one of those secrets is of a cover-up of the actual incidents of that November evening in 1953.

For example, he would highlight how the two pilots had no memorial performed in their honor as every member of the military who dies during active duty would do. This despite an official declaration of death on their part. And of their widows receiving an equally customary American flag from the United States Air Force.

Writing in UFOBC Quarterly Magazine in 2003 he would ask bluntly:

Was it because they (the Air Force) had reason to suspect that the two crewmen might still be alive?

Although that is quite an assertion, it is certainly an interesting detail. And perhaps one that is easy to overlook while researching the rest of the bizarre if grim case. If there was a chance the two pilots were alive, where were they?

Again, while this is pure speculation, might they have secretly been recovered by US forces? And if so, what reason could there have been to keep their survival and recovery secret? Might it suggest, that the US military knew a little more about the “UFO” than their official stance would lead the public to believe?

A discovery fifteen years after the incident would add yet another layer of intrigue and mystery to the whole affair.

Coincidence And Secrecy

In 1968 in Sault Ste. Marie in Canada, what seemed to be military plane wreckage was found by prospectors along the banks of Lake Superior. There was, it would appear, limited speculation in the local press that the wreckage could be that of the missing F-89 from the famous Kinross UFO incident. However, neither the American or Canadian Air Forces were particularly forthcoming regarding the find.

Whether the wreckage was that of Moncla and Wilson’s F-89 or that of another F-89 that, coincidentally or not, came to the ground in Wisconsin during a training exercise on the same evening as the Kinross Incident is open to debate. If there was a desire to keep a tight wrap on what “really happened” to the fighter out of Kinross Air Force Base on 23rd November 1953, it certainly wouldn’t hurt that exactly the same make of plane just happened to be “training” in (practically) the same air space at the same time.

Might, then, certain high-ranking officers at Kinross Air Force Base and the US Air Force, in general, know more of the fate of Moncla and Wilson than is on the public record? While there is no solid evidence at all to back up such speculation, the secrecy with which this case, and others, has been handled, only fans the flames of such conspiracy.

Just what happened to the Felix Moncla and Robert Wilson? And why has their fate been concealed for over half a century?

Something From Another World Or Something “Uncle Sam” Is Experimenting With?

It isn’t just UFO researchers and conspiracy theorists who have an interest in what happened to Felix Moncla and Robert Wilson. Members of the men’s family also wish to know the actual circumstances surrounding their loved one’s deaths. All they know from official records is that their plane crashed, and they are missing, presumed dead.

Of course, as the years have gone on more and more details have come to light.

For example, according to a cousin of Moncla, Buddy Moncla, he is very much open to the notion that Felix was “snatched” by a UFO. In fact, according to the research that Buddy himself has done, the last transmission of his long-lost cousin was:

I’m going in for a closer look…!

Then, silence. At least officially. Remember, the apparent anonymous witness who claimed to have heard Moncla’s voice “long after” his apparent disappearance.

Regardless of what happened, it is Buddy’s belief that his cousin “saw something” – just as the official records of the radar corroborates. And furthermore, in his words in the early-2000s, “what else” could explain the bizarre and mysterious circumstances around the incident, as well as the US Air Force’s equally baffling response to it?

What is perhaps interesting is that Buddy, as we speculated above, questions whether the “UFO” was an alien driven machine, or “something that Uncle Sam was experimenting with”.

What if the UFO was an experimental aircraft? Might that explain the “merging” of the two objects? Could it have been that the order to scramble from Kinross Air Force Base that evening should never have been given? And might, if all if this wild speculation is true, be why Moncla’s voice was still coming through the audio? Might the “Uncle Sam” aircraft had an open channel on board?

The “Wallet Incident” And The Rail Crew Witnesses

Heath’s research on the matter is perhaps one of the most detailed on record. And one that spans many years.

Perhaps one of the strangest details that Heath points out, and one that could be of quiet importance, is that before scrambling for his jet, Moncla purposely reached for his wallet and left it purposely behind. Was this, as in a scene in the 1940s film Destination Tokyo where the pilots were asked to leave their ID papers behind as they would have to land their planes in China following a mission to Tokyo, meaning there was a good chance that they may not return alive. Was this, as Heath asks, a sign that Moncla suspected there was a good chance he may not return from this latest scramble mission?

There is also the apparent railway crew who claimed to hear a crash on the night in question. On the Canadian side of the border, workers along the Algoma Central Railway would report to local newspapers of hearing an explosion on the night in question.

Although there is no official mention of it in the report, witnesses in the area also state that US jets, presumably searching for the missing pilot, did several sweeps of the area shortly after. No wreckage – at least as far as the public is aware – was recovered at the area. What might the rail workers have heard if not the F-89 jet?

The Battle Creek Witness

Another apparent witness to the incidents would come to light in the early-2000s when a report surfaced on a website concerning UFO sightings. The account, from an anonymous witness, claimed they were a former military member and was present in the radar room at Battle Creek Air Force Base on the night of the Kinross incident.

Their account of the evening in question was almost identical to what is now in the public record. Except, he was able to “fill in the gaps”. According to his version of events, two F-89 had scrambled that evening, but one of them had to almost immediately turn back to base due to a malfunction.

Moncla would then turn down the option to wait for another wingman and proceeded to intercept the “bogey” along (with Wilson reading the radar). The witness claimed to have witnessed the radar screen as well as the radio communications, which were increasing infested with chaotic static the longer the incident progressed.

The declassified, and official files clearly show that only one plane was in the air at the time of the scrambling. So that leaves us several options to go over.

An Important Account Or Disinformation?

Firstly, is it possible that the Battle Creek witness is simply manufacturing the truth for their own entertainment? After all, there is no monetary return for submitting such reports. While this is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, there is little reason to believe that someone would have gone out of their way for the fun of it. Especially when there are other ways they can get attention.

Might it be, then, that such information, misleading as it potentially is, was purposely uploaded by the powers that be in order to muddy the waters a little more. We have, on several occasions, examined how disinformation works in the UFO community. Might this be such an example?

Or might the account be genuine and the details simply mistaken decades later? If that is the case, then the details about the static are very interesting. And worthy of note. Many other UFO cases mention this build-up of “static electricity”. Does this, then, suggest that the UFO that evening was indeed one of alien origin.

As Heath says of the apparent Battle Creek witness, there is nothing to corroborate his account, but it does have the feeling of “being important”. And is certainly something we should take into account here.

Connection To The 1952 “F. Jake” Flight Disappearance?

Almost exactly a year earlier on the 28th November 1952, another plane would vanish just as mysteriously as the F-89 piloted by Moncla. That evening, pilot, F. Jake would take charge of a twin-engine Beach 35 aircraft at Edmonton, Alberto in Canada. With three passengers, the flight was scheduled to travel to Toronto to witness a Grey Cup game.

They would refuel at Houghton Municipal Airport – which is, incidentally or not sits on Michigan’s Keeweenaw Peninsula, the last confirmed sightings of the F-89 jet that vanished a year later. After the refuel, Jake would take the plane over the open waters of Lake Superior.

As is standard procedure, their flight was monitored by US radar stations along the America-Canada border. Shortly after they took off from their refueling stop, the plane along with Jake and the three passengers simply disappeared from the radar screens.

What made the disappearance even more bizarre was that there were no distress signals or anything else to suggest there was any kind of problem with the aircraft. And further still, no wreckage or bodies were ever recovered.

There are some records in the form of official telexes to suggest that some plane wreckage was recovered in the immediate region in Beaver Lake – a small stretch of water nearby – in April 1953. It is, however, unclear if this wreckage was of the missing Beach 35 aircraft. And if it was, it would raise the question as to why no further wreckage or bodies were recovered in the same vicinity.

The 1953 Hunrath And Wilkinson Disappearance

Whether there is a connection or not is perhaps open to debate, but an incident that happened a mere weeks before the Kinross Incident is most definitely worth looking at here. Especially as it would result in the strange disappearance of at least two people.

The fact that they had some connections to George Adamski – who despite initial believable contact almost certainly appears to have manufactured and manipulated such events towards the end of his life – perhaps makes some researchers stay clear of the incident. As a “follower” of Adamski’s, Karl Hunrath would develop a device – the “Bosco” – with another follower that could summon down flying saucers.

After falling out with Adamski and while working as a radio technician in California, Hunrath would be joined by his co-inventor, Wilbur Wilkinson, incidentally, a married man with three children. Between them, they aimed to develop their invention further and summon down to Earth visitors from other worlds. It wasn’t long – through psychic techniques managed to “communicate” with an apparent extraterrestrial race called the “Maserians”.

Then, in early November, things took a decidedly strange and perhaps ominous turn.

Beginning on the 10th November 1953 and continuing into the following day, Hunrath would begin placing phone calls to members of his family and close friends and associates. What he said would make people concerned about his mental health.

He would claim that several people had “left Earth for other planets”. Furthermore, people should not be surprised if this might happen to him.

A Cosmic Journey Or Tricked Into Abduction?

Then, on the afternoon of the 11th November, the two men would rent a small plane at Gardina County Airport just outside of Los Angeles. They would rent the plane for exactly one hour and made sure there was three hours-worth of fuel in the tank. Perhaps in an effort to cover their tracks, they would submit no flight plan before leaving the airfield.

What happened next is largely guess work. It would appear, however, their plan was to meet the “Maserians” somewhere in the deserts outside of Los Angeles in southern California. From there, it would seem, at least according to their own belief, they would be taken to another planet.

Whether they achieved this or not – as outlandish as it sounds – is still open to debate, as their plane nor either of their bodies was ever found. They simply vanished into thin air.

It is easy to imagine that Hunrath – an inexperienced pilot, no doubt – likely crashed somewhere in the desert. However, if this was the case the wreckage should have been recovered quickly. However, this didn’t happen.

Did they really manage to “meet” an extraterrestrial race in the California desert and leave the planet with them? If that was the case, why was their plane also gone? Did they, like Moncla and Wilson only twelve days later, simply become engulfed by the (presumably) huge UFO?

Maybe we should ask ourselves, what if the contact between Hunrath and Wilkinson and these apparent cosmic visitors was genuine, only their intentions were not as advertised to the two men. Might it be that a meeting did take place in the desert outside Los Angeles, only the eventual leaving of the planet was far from voluntary?

A Reminder Of The Very Real Consequences!

Before we move on to look at a remarkable discovery on November 2006, we should once again remind ourselves that behind all of the theories, claims, and speculation, two young men lost their lives that evening in November 1953. And what’s more, members of their families are still not satisfied with the “official” explanations on record.

Felix Moncla’s older sister, Leoni Shannon, would claim that the incident “deeply affected” her family, particularly their mother, for whom Felix “was her only son”. Leoni herself would also carry the circumstances, or more specifically the cloudiness of them, around with her. She would state decades later:

After that incident, I was constantly looking in the sky every night. I never saw anything. It’s a puzzle!

Perhaps more damning, however, was how the Air Force and, in turn, the US government handled the situation. And the respective family members. She would state:

We still know nothing about it. I don’t think the (US) government wants to let us know about what really happened to him!

She is certainly not alone in her assessment. Most of the UFO researchers who have investigated the case have drawn a complete blank and wall of silence with regards to their requests for further information. As we mentioned previously, it is this kind of blank response that fuels the many conspiracies that thrive in such conditions.

The Great Lakes Dive Company Claims – Revelations Or Hoax?

In August 2006 it appeared there was reason for quiet excitement concerning the case when an apparent e-mail sourcing an apparent overlooked Associated Press story regarding the recovery of an F-89 jet plane.

The story is ultimately – and likely correctly – thought to be a hoax. However, given everything we have spoken of, both in this article and in several others on the subject of disinformation within the UFO community, we would be irresponsible not to mention it here.

An e-mail would arrive with UFO researcher, Francis Ridge, from someone using the name “Preston Miller”. The story claimed that contrary to the official report, divers had discovered the wreckage of the F-89 scorpion jet shortly after the incident in late-1953. The discovery, the e-mail continued, was made in Lake Superior a short distance from the last confirmed sighting of the plane.

Ridge would forward this information into the wider UFO community via the forums and message boards. One of the details made available by the UFO researcher was a link to a website allegedly ran by the divers who now wished to get the truth out to the public. This company went by the name of the Great Lakes Dive Company.

Almost immediately the UFO community swarmed over the apparent whistleblowers. This would eventually result in a representative of the Great Lakes Dive Company making themselves available for interview.

Indeed, it would appear to many people that a breakthrough had finally come in a case that was over half a century old. Not to mention that was still – in the minds of most researchers – still very much unexplained.

“Adam Jimenez”

Following the sudden surge of interest from the UFO community “Adam Jimenez” would begin to field questions and even requests for interviews concerning the information they had sent to Ridge. And the quality of some of the researchers and investigators who would speak to Jimenez was of a high standard, perhaps no more so than when he was interviewed on the Coast To Coast radio show by Linda Moulton Howe.

What’s more, side-scan sonar images of the apparent discovery were made available on the company’s website. They would show a plane that seemed to be almost in one piece. You can view those pictures above and below.

However, when further images appeared on the website claiming to show a “teardrop-shaped UFO” near to the apparent wreckage of the plane suspicions began to rise among many UFO researchers. The claims from Jimenez and the Great Lakes Dive Company was that this was the UFO that caused the apparent crash over the water of Lake Superior.

Intense searches began to go ahead on both the company and Jimenez – both of which would result in no information whatsoever. In fact, to any level-headed investigator, it would appear that both the Great Lakes Dive Company and Adam Jimenez (at least the one claiming to represent the company) did not exist.

Then, less than a month after the correspondence and claims of the company surfaced, the website vanished completely. Furthermore, “Adam Jimenez” would no longer reply to e-mails and the phone number for him no longer worked.

Was this merely a hoax by bored teenagers or twentysomethings sat around in a basement of the family home enjoying the anonymity the Internet allowed for such tomfoolery? Or might there be a little more to the Great Lakes Dive Company?

A Contemporary Attempt At Control And Manipulation Of The Facts?

Even after this sudden disappearance and seemingly confirmation of the obvious falseness of the claims many UFO researchers would continue digging into the apparent identity and motivation of Jimenez and the Great Lakes Dive Company.

While there was no suggestion that what the apparent whistleblowers were saying was true, some of the information they were pushing was intriguing. For example, they would claim that the reason the location had not been searched thoroughly by the United States Air Force was down to a refusal to give permission on the part of the Canadian government. This, incidentally, was not only completely false, but no such permission was requested. At least, officially.

The images themselves, however, were generally thought to be genuine pictures. But they were likely taken of sites elsewhere as opposed to in the surface of Lake Superior.

Once more, we have to ask if there is anything anyone could gain from setting and carrying on such a claim.

Generally speaking, most of the UFO community disregard the claims of “Adam Jimenez” as nothing more than a silly hoax. And it would certainly appear that there is no to little truth in any of the claims he or the Great Lakes Dive Company make. Perhaps amazingly, however, there is still some who believe there might be something in them.

However, if there is, it is most likely in a way that most people don’t always consider. Might this, for example, be another attempt to plant disinformation? And to make anyone who might take an interest such cases be seen as “crazy” as the claims of such UFO researchers as “Adam Jimenez”. It sounds fanciful, but such a simple tactic is highly effective with the wider public. Especially those that are standoffish with such bizarre claims, to begin with.

Quite Obvious That Something Extraordinary Occurred!

The tragic disappearance, and presumed death of the two servicemen – Felix Moncla and Robert Wilson – is, in reality, just one of several such fatal disappearances. In short, such admissions would be to admit not only that UFOs were very real, but they were potentially dangerous. Not least because of our collective understanding of them, or lack thereof.

If there is any truth to this, or any of the other similar (in some cases identical in the basic detail) what does that tell us of these apparent galactic visitors? And were these missing pilots killed intentionally, captured, or did they indeed experience a fate unknown to us?

Perhaps more than anything else, though, and a question that lies at the heart of many such UFO incidents, why was there, and still is, such an effort by, at least portions of the United States’ military and government to keep such a tight lid on these bizarre instances? As the sister of Felix Moncla stated, she believed the government “didn’t want to tell them the truth”.

Does this suggest some kind of active involvement in such matters? Or might the reasons be – as has always been suggested, albeit unofficially – that to acknowledge such tragic and fatal incidents would cause a panic among the wider population?

Whatever the answers to those questions ultimately prove to be, it seems perfectly obvious that the truth of the matter is different from the official version of events. That something extraordinary took place appears quite obvious. Just what that “something extraordinary” might prove to be is still very much open to debate.

Check out the video below. It discusses this intriguing incident in a little more detail.

Disclaimer

The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

By publishing these accounts, UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the integrity of them.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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